eLearning consultant to review my course?

Sep 04, 2012

Hi all,

I've a subject-matter expert who just took the daylong workshop I've been giving for 10 years and turned it into an online course. 40 paying users have been through it and say that it's good, but since I didn't know what I was doing when I made it, I'm sure it can be better.

Now I'm getting ready to build another one. Before I do, I'd like to hire an experienced course designer to review my existing course and give me recommendations to improve it (and the principles behind those recommendations, so I can apply them to my new course as well).

Whom would you recommend?

18 Replies
Michael Smart

Mike, Stephanie, Patti, and anyone else,

Thanks for your generosity. I didn't want to take advantage of anyone, but I'd be most grateful for your reactions.

Here's the link to my first lesson, which is strictly an introduction:


After you chime in on this, I could create a login for those interested and share the rest of my course.

Thanks again,


D'Arcy Morrison

Some simple, straightforward advice off the cuff.

1. Get rid of all your animated text and bullets, and periodic blank slides. You can illustrate all of these slides with visuals.

2. An Engage interaction would work great for your case studies.

3. Don't leave "do it" and "try it" activities (such as quizzes and exercises) until the next lesson. You can introduce these right away to engage the learner.

Laura Payette

I agree that you can illustrate your slides with visuals, which would be much more compelling than animated text. I would actually consider flipping your module around and starting with Examples from the PR Wires. This would get learners actively involved in the course right off the bat. As D'Arcy suggested, you could do this as an Engage interaction. You could also show contrasting examples of the same stories -- the poorly written version against a well written version -- and then draw out the things that make the well-written versions move people to action, please management, and grab attention. If these are real stories, you might even share whether they got picked up somewhere and, if so, show what the final version looked like.

In general I think you can condense the background information in this module quite a bit. Some of it could even be placed in an interaction that lives in a tab in the player and not in the course itself. That way you can jump right into the meat of the course. After all, most learners want to know What's In It For Me? and then they want to get on to learning whatever it is that's going to enhance their performance.

Rebecca Hay


First, let me say that I like the pacing and style of your teaching.

You have a nice clean template to work with--that is good.

I would like to see a "host" type of character guiding the learner through the course.

I picture this as either various shots of you   -   or, you good introduce the host and let them appear at various appropriate times throughout the course. Change the pose and expressions as needed.

The three slides of text were a little much all together. Either drop two of them, or stop for reflection/feedback immedicately after each one. Or, have all three available and let the learner click on one ((or more). That way they can make the choice to read one, two, or three instead of being forced to read all three.

Great start you ahve here.

Keep going with it. 

Patti Shank

Michael, I like the introduction.There's nothing wrong with the animations. What others have said about more visuals is good but it's not enough I don't think. The biggest problems with what you have is that it LOOKS like it will be boring. You have 20 numbered slides. If I were you, I'd:

Do this in with YOU in front of a green screen and tell this in a story format story using very few slides and lots of surprises. Use a very slick visual approach (talk to Steve Haskin stevehaskin@att.net) that he calls Photeo. You can read about here: http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/854/photos--movement--photeo-part-1-of-5. Same kind of content, but lots of fun. The key is to maintain interest.

Now the rest of it will be instructional and that's where us instructional folks come in. The intro needs lots of fun and interest. It needs stories and interest. You're trying to sell people that they need you and that they're going to get what they need.

Stephanie Harnett

Hi Michael. You're not taking advantage - this community contributes and shares all the time. It's good karma.

I agree with all the comments so far. To me, the pacing and look seem similar to a PowerPoint presentation. I think the biggest improvement to the course will be to make it learner focused more than an information push. That usually means enabling learners to challenge their thinking fairly soon after starting the course, or a way for them to validate that continuing with the course will be of value to them.

To that end, condensing the background information is a good idea. You may consider creating a video of yourself and providing background information in a more personal manner. Making it optional and making it as brief as possible (simplify your content and don't be rushed) will give learners a choice; everyone wants to be able to choose for themselves.

Leveraging Engage activities and working with the menu to hide some of themenu items will make the course seem less like a “click next”, linear presentation and more like an interactive informational piece to get started with and to inspire your learners.

I would differentiate between the interface/skin and the slide treatment. Itypically make the interface (skin) dark grey so that the content area standsout. I would move your logo off the slides and over into the upper left corner of the skin to allow for some white space or just a little more screen realestate in the design.

Speaking of visuals, adding more relevant images will make this course more interesting.For example, perhaps an animated slide when you are talking about thestatistics late in the presentation and making sure to use official companylogos when references clients - not only is this more interesting to look at,it has more impact when you see the real logos.

You might want to watch for long running narrations (anything over 30seconds) particularly when nothing else is happening on the slide. Some motion,some relevant graphics or images that come on and off the screen while you speak will make it more interesting to listen too.

Your voice is great and your pacing good too. So a little simplification, a sprinkling of visuals and some interface tweaking should help to transform the content from PowerPoint-ish to content that appeals directly to the person viewing it.



francis murello

Those are all great suggestions and as a beginner (and looking at this column for a long time) have implemented in my modules. But I'll take a different approach and recommend a product that I just bought that I think makes my presentations sound a lot better. I just bought a USB microphone and POP filter. The main reason was that I have a lot of SME (subject matter experts) that I needed to record. A lot of people are squeamish about using other peoples headsets. I hear a lot of pops in your recording and maybe some other background noise. I think minimizing those distractions will make all of the other suggestions you see here work even better. Just my 2 cents!

sima vatandoust

General comments: your course needs a background (it could be papers). Add more colors, darker blue for menus, and lighter blue for the background)

1.        You introduce yourself twice, why?

2.        Slide 2 & 3, change them to questions with multiple answers. And then give feedback, depends on the learners’ answers.

3.        Slide 4, no need to repeat your name again (your name is on every single page). Add more images, such as high school classrooms, university, newspapers, may be even your articles.

4.        Slide 5, replace text with images of the newspapers, TV, cars, etc.

5.        Slide 6, not a good photo. Replace it with 3 photos of people typing (with typewriter, hand, computer), put papers as background.

6.        Slide 7 & 8, need more photos to add life to the pages.

7.        Slide 9 & 10 could be replaced with one engaged (hotspots) page. Background could be a road with stop signs (this is just a quick idea, for such a short time)

8.        It is necessary to have 3 pages to read? It is too long (and boring), maybe divide them to 3 separated sections, after each section put a discussion.

9.        At the beginning of the course ask the learner to have pen and paper.

10.     Slide 17, don’t tell the learner what will be seen in the next page, they probably click the next button without trying to write down their opinion.

11.     Slide 18, change it to a question, and give feedback, make it more interesting for the learner to compare his/her note with yours (or others).

I like your narration. But it is written for a presentation, if you want to replace your presentation with an e-learning course, it needs some alterations to fit the category.

Michael Rosenberger

Probably mentioned, but a few quick suggestions I would make:

Use a better microphone to improve the audio. Make sure you don't have pops or hear wind noise from breathing. A solid audio track where the voice has presence will go a long way to polish the presentation.

Start you engagement and student participation early. Your second slide is the PREFECT place! You ask the student some questions about the words, why not have them take a guess. Let them know it will be interactive and they will need to listen to what is being asked and discussed. You might even use the second slide as the introduction, asking them the question(s) and having them interact. Then, give a brief response and introduce yourself.

More graphics and visuals would be good as well.

I hope you will post your revised module with notes on what worked and what was changed.

Thanks for sharing this.

Bob S

NOTE: Deliberately have not read the feedback from others so far. Some of these points may have already been covered.

Hello Michael,

First you are to be commended for reaching out for some feedback on your offering. Very brave and very professional.

Here are some initial thoughts. Hopefully you will find them helpful...

  • It was slide 13 before there was any "meat" for the learner. You might want to consider trying a short example earlier and/or shortening the preamble overall. That being said, Slide 2 was really good....  It sucked me in as it will your learners. So build on that moment of power and do a call to action right there.
  • Not sure you need the second set of statement questions.... watered down the point instead of strengthening it.
  • Consider shortening your bio and leading with your best punch first. The places you've been published is a powerful endoresement. Puch that slide up, add some animations and/or company logo-types and start your bio with THAT. Then a simple simple follow-up slide, that makes the point about it not being a god-given gift and taking work. That shorter 1-2 combo in that order has more impact.
  • Lose the "other writers I've helped" slide. Minimal impact unless they are well-known figures or you have a stat like "more than XXX writers helped" or some such.
  • This one is tough, so please know it comes from the heart...  Try rephrasing much of what you have away from Me, I, My reccomendations, My requests.... and focus on the learner instead. They don't care what you want them to do.... they care what they have to do and whats in it for them. For full disclosure.... I was given the same feedback years ago and still find myself slipping into that personal viewpoint style so I really do understand why you wrote it like that.
  • I think you are onto something and there is some good stuff there. Tighten.... edit judiciously... focus on the learner... and add a bit of window dressing and I think you are on the right track.

Hope this helps. Good beginning and stay with it!


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